Namaste America T-shirts were introduced by Tim Ryan, a 2020 presidential hopeful and congressman from Ohio.
Amid growing calls for more diversity in politics, here comes another diversity token, albeit in a rather unusual and unexpected way. Over the weekend, Tim Ryan, a 2020 presidential hopeful and congressman from Ohio, tweeted a grey t-shirt with “Namaste America” emblazoned on it, as part of his campaign merchandise.
The tee had “Namaste America” written in red and white — colors of the US flag — along with a logo of Ryan’s presidential campaign neatly placed underneath it.
Ryan and his campaign team may have released the tees as a part of a well-thought plan. But the merchandise with a greeting significant to the Hindu faith appeared a bit misplaced and even confusing to many of his followers on Twitter.
To begin with, Ryan remains a relatively unknown presidential candidate and, when it comes to the Indian American community, he, at best, enjoys little or no popularity. So, certainly, he may not be wooing the Indian American or Hindu voters.
That leaves us with another conjecture — that maybe he associated his mindfulness and love for meditation with Namaste and hence used the greeting. But then would that mean that Ryan used the term as exotica as many proponents of yoga use in the US, without fully understanding what the term means and why it is significant? Anyhow, Twitter had a field day trying to decipher the message behind Ryan’s “Namaste America” tees.
One user, @narnarasimhan, tweeted: “Can you tell me and the Indian American community what’s the purpose of this t-shirt? And why is the Hindi word for hello categorized under “mindfulness”? Is your campaign about mindfulness? I don’t get it, and would love an explanation.
Another user @crookedroads770 wrote: “Tim, do you know what this shirt means.”
@jezawatson tweeted: “You know you are running for president not yogini. Right?”
Another Twitter user wrote: “Honestly everyone would assume, this is Tulsi Gabbard merch!”